Prof. Dr Eva Herrmann, Prof. Dr Manal El-Sayed, Prof. Dr Gamal Esmat, Ms. Isabell Mering and Mr. Felix Bock (from left to right)

The Medical Symposium 2021 in Egypt took place online on the 27th of October and addressed one of the pressing topics of today which unfortunately is at danger of losing public attention, especially now during the global Covid-19 pandemic: The Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is still prominent in Egypt, Germany as well as in many other countries and it exemplifies the need for global awareness in order to eliminate the virus. This is because and despite the fact there is a cure in form of direct-acting antivirals which is successful in 99% percent of treatment cases, many infections take place without being noticed by the host and thus, not proceeding to medical treatment, often leads to the development of severe cases. This fact points at the need for extensive screening campaigns which was brought to speech among many other aspects by the presentations of high-profile speakers in the framework of this year’s Medical Symposium.

Starting off with the event, the Director of the DAAD Regional Office Cairo, Ms. Isabell Mering, welcomed the guests and presenters with greeting words before outlining the challenges and prospects surrounding the issue of Hepatitis C. She explained the purpose of the Medical Symposium, serving as a platform for international exchange and collaboration opportunities between scientists in related fields as well as raising awareness for the measures to be taken in the form of wide-spread screening campaigns in order to successfully combat HCV.

Prof. Dr Eva Herrmann

Prof. Dr Eva Herrmann, Head of the Institute of Biostatistics and Mathematical Modelling at the University Hospital of the Goethe University Frankfurt, then proceeded by giving an insight into the mechanics of infections caused by the Hepatitis C virus in her presentation “Hepatitis C: How to Asses Viral Proteins Interaction in Human Cells”. Her presentation provided a unique approach on the topic, due to Prof. Herrmann’s scientific background being from the biomathematical field and working on elaborated modelling methods in the area of medical science. By presenting several models from different stages of HCV-infections, she was able to provide visual impressions illustrating the complex biochemical interactions while elaborating on the process of designing such models.

Prof. Dr Gamal Esmat, Prof. Dr Eva Herrmann, Prof. Dr Manal El-Sayed, Mr. Felix Bock (from left to right)

Continuing with the strategies of combatting HCV, Prof. Dr Gamal Esmat, Professor of Hepatogastroenterology & Infectious Diseases at Cairo University, explained the factors leading to the revolution of HCV treatment in 2011 in his presentation entitled “Risk of HCV Therapy with Direct Acting Antivirals”. Prof. Dr Esmat gave an in-depth view on the biochemical processes behind the treatment of patients and the factors conditioning its success, such as the prevalence of pre-existing illnesses like liver cirrhosis as well as gender and age. Pointing at possible side-effects of the treatment like Anaemia or Hyperbilirubinemia, the presentation of Prof. Dr Esmat gave an interesting impression on current treatment methods, their risks as well as the prospects of their success. The data which he relied on for his statements stems on extensive studies with around 150.000 Egyptian HCV patients during treatment campaigns from the year 2014 onwards.

Flawlessly continuing the line of argumentation by her prior speaker, Prof. Dr. Manal El-Sayed, Ain Shams University, presented yet another view on the Egyptian HCV situation in her presentation on “The Paediatric Perspective on Hepatitis C and the Key Factors Conditioning the Successful Implementation of Egypt’s National Strategy”. Being specialised in Paediatrics as well as Hepatology, Prof. Dr El-Sayed portrayed the planning as well as the realisation of Egypt’s National HCV Strategy which achieved a large success in the combat against HCV in the country, propelled by the mentioned direct-acting antivirals. This success was due to the great financial as well as personnel efforts which were invested into a range of campaigns, first targeting patients who were diagnosed with HCV before commencing with nation-wide screening activities by building up testing centres in schools, town centres and military bases among other locations throughout Egypt. By the year 2030, these campaigns will have led to over 250.000 estimated averted deaths.
With the help of the presentations and precious insights into their scientific work offered by our esteemed speakers, the Medical Symposium not only provided new impulses for long-lasting collaborative relationships between Egypt and Germany while raising awareness about HCV in general, but it also led to a hopeful perspective on the management of the virus in the future.